It was something I had mused about before our epic summer vacation, something I thought I might do when we got back. I had been imagining a little furniture shuffle of sorts. The first on my list was moving the secretary desk from the corner of the dining room to my bedroom, in hopes that I could hideaway to write in moments of quiet.
So one afternoon, about two weeks after our return, I had a burst of energy and in the midst of prepping two painting projects, I decided it was time move the desk.
I heaved the heavy old oak desk across the laminate floor, gliding on the grace of some kitchen towels. Then domino effect quickly ensued, and I swapped my nightstand with my husband’s. Moving things always creates upheaval.
Upon the desk’s arrival in my room, I hung a charming gold mirror I found at an antique store in Wisconsin, and I knew it had all come together with my chair, bed and decor in complete French Country perfection. It was a place I could indeed write inspired.
But the in the great desk transition, I noticed something. While I loved the way my room now looked and felt, the corner of the dining area looked abandoned. The desk left a vacancy of something that held a place, practically served a purpose, and perfectly framed the corner of the room. Every time I walked up the stairs, all I saw was the terribly lonesome corner with cold white angles of the walls, and a picture left hanging like a misplaced sticker on a page.
The day after the musical furniture shuffle, the empty corner caught my eye again. I wasn’t prepared for the sadness that struck, it seemed so ridiculous. Why be sad about a desk’s absence? I heard a quiet voice inside my spirit. “You don’t like transition, because there is always loss.” It was then my eyes saw; the sadness wasn’t as much about the desk as all the other transitions we are shifting into.
Transition changes the landscape of our lives and heart. Whether it’s a good or hard transition there is always a vacancy left open, and a subsequent vulnerability open like an unbandaged wound. Transitions of kids being back in school, job changes, getting married, having a baby, the death of a loved one, moving to a new location, health issues, arriving home from a long sabbatical. I began thinking, how often do we try to escape the pain of transition by quickly trying to replace the vacancy with something else? How long are we willing to wait and stare at the empty corner and cold white walls, reminding us of the greatness that was there before filling it up with anything, just to escape the loss? Are we willing to sit and wait for the right thing, or will we use anything tangible to fill the void?
When we were in Australia, we rented a very nice house with my sister’s family. It had high end touches like granite countertops and a rain shower head in the marble-tiled shower. But one thing stood out to my husband and me; there was a lack of finishings. There was no baseboard around the bottom of the walls, and there were no transitions from carpet to tile. Just a clean break. Nothing to take you smoothly from here to there, to hide the inbetween. I wonder, how often we try to smooth over our transitions for the sake of comfort or beauty, in then doing so, we don’t have a chance to grieve what we lost before moving on to the next thing?
Transition, even good transition, involves loss and gain. My room is beautiful, and all the more functional for writing. But our dining room feels the loss (as silly as it seems). And if I can be honest, I want to fill the void as fast as I can (I may or may not have been obsessively watching Craigslist for the right piece).
The truth is, in life, one thing rarely replaces another. Transitions are only the road signs to change. What was before is forever woven into our story, what lies ahead requires an awareness of new terrain as we awkwardly find footing in a new place again.
As we transition from the most amazing summer a family could have had – spending three months together, adventuring around the US and Australia, we are now settling back into school and real life. I’ve taken the lesson from the secretary desk to heart. We must acknowledge the gifts that were present for the time past. We need to give permission to grieve the loss. Our hearts needs closure to the changes, so as big or little as it is, giving permission to feel the loss rather than pretending it’s not that big of a deal. Lastly, we get to look forward and celebrate new opportunities and blessings for the future.
For now, I am on the hunt for another desk to make pretty…
Thanks for stopping by,
P.S. I’ll be back to share about the summer journey and of course more inspiration along the way.